Letters & Opinion

Not Fit Even For Opposition

Prime Minister Kenny D. Anthony
Prime Minister Kenny D. Anthony

I WATCHED in disbelief as the House Sitting to discuss the 2015/16 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure came to an unexpected and abrupt end on Wednesday. . The Government, through its leader and Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs , had spoken and as usual, Prime Minister Kenny D. Anthony gave a detailed and comprehensive account of his Government’s financial business over the last year and took the House of Assembly and indeed the country, through the allocations for 2015/2016.

In just over an hour, the Minister of Finance shared some good news that meant one thing: Kennynomics works! Whilst the good news was met with public approval, the opposition was left shell-shocked. They simply weren’t ready. It was as if Gale Rigobert, Arsene James and Edmund Estephane were fooled into believing the erroneous economic statistics Chastanet had been peddling to them and the public at large for a whole year to all who would give him a listening ear. They appeared to be totally amazed, as the lecturer, Kenny D. Anthony calmly took the floor to report better days in the management of Saint Lucia’s treasury. Something which had eluded the UWP during their five-year tenure! The truth is, the Opposition desperately wants this economy to collapse.

The Minister for Finance commenced, “Public finances strengthened during the Financial Year 2014-15, with improved revenue performance and prudent expenditure management. The preliminary outturn indicates that total revenues and grants amounted to $989.2 million while total expenditure is estimated to have reached $1.15 billion, generating a lower overall deficit of $126.4 million or 3.4% of GDP compared to a target of $213.5 million or 5.8% of GDP in the 2014/2015 budget.” By then the look of shock and anxiety was visible on the faces of the Opposition. This is not what they had prepared for. This wasn’t the message Allen Chastanet had told them was coming. Instead they expected to hear that the treasury had collapsed due to ill health and the inability of the Government to secure consensus for a 5% wage cut. After all, this is what they had hired Mary Isaac to do, to block any reduction in expenditure on salaries and wages.

Given their history in the House, I fully expected the figures to be twisted someway, somehow by Guy Joseph and the rest of his team. However, the fact that the Opposition’s Budget Debate is being coordinated by someone who is not a member of the House and who was not present in the gallery at the time of the summary presentation, would make it hard to adjust. The UWP team was crippled. To make matters worse, Chastanet’s Deputy, messenger and translator, Guy Joseph, left before the Prime Minister concluded his report to the House, without giving clear instructions to Gale Rigobert. The Opposition was lost for words. The figures given to them by Chastanet were off and so they were confused and bewildered.

But there is a question to ponder. Why did Guy Joseph leave the House at the time that he did? The explanation that he offered to the public was that he had a funeral to go to. Is it normal to go to a funeral at 10:30 a.m.? I think not. Guy Joseph, I suspect, was supposed to lead the rebuttal of the Opposition but quickly had to consult his leader, Allen Chastanet for directions given the information presented by the Minister of Finance. Caught off guard, Gale Rigobert did not know what to do to save the day.

I will share my views on the embarrassment that followed but first, to ensure that the good news is not lost in the Opposition’s confusion, I wish to highlight a few salient points from the Minister of Finance’s exposition to the House of Assembly.

1. The overall deficit was 3.4% in 2014/2015, much lower than the targeted 5.8%, even though salaries and wages were not cut by 5%. That can only be Kennynomics. Bravo Kenny!;

2. Revenue and grants were higher by $29 million or 3% for 2014/2015. That is Kennynomics! Bravo Kenny;

3. Recurrent Revenue collected for 2014/2015 was $928.3 million or 6.9% above the original target. Kennynomics at work! Bravo Kenny D. Anthony.

These are records that all Saint Lucians should be proud of. At this time last year, the message was a bitter pill to swallow. Today, the results have made it clear that Labour is a better government to follow.

Just as the Opposition creates platforms to mourn about an unemployment problem created by their poor handling of the economy between 2006 and 2011, a crime situation that spiralled out of control and peaked in 2011 and CIF on fuel prices, one would have thought that they would profit an uninterrupted Parliamentary platform to ask “How did you do it Kenny? “ or to simply say “Bravo”. The successes of Kenny D. Anthony are the successes of the people. Clearly we expected too much of an effette opposition.

Even after the embarrassment of a confused and silent Opposition was displayed in the House yesterday, the Opposition did all in their power to ensure the reduced fiscal deficit and improved revenue collection did not capture the headlines. Their main spinner, Timothy Poleon, commenced his midday show with Gale Rigobert, who was later assisted by Guy Joseph and Nancy Charles. They all felt they reserved the right to remain silent because Kenny D. Anthony is a dictator. What a sorry and pathetic excuse for an Opposition! And no, Timothy Poleon saw nothing wrong with the sorry excuse which passes for Opposition in Saint Lucia.

The evening news on every station was filled with more excuses from almost every member of what is left of the Opposition. As if that was not sufficient time, every Talk Show on Wednesday night had a UWP Parliamentarian offering different and most times conflicting reasons for such unprecedented and shameful behaviour. The common thread was “It was Kenny Anthony’s fault because he is a dictator.” Now, tell me, what did Kenny D. Anthony do in the House of Assembly to make him a dictator? Let us examine a few of the Opposition excuses.

1. We cannot debate figures without information. Firstly, figures is information. Secondly, all that information was explained in a one hour opening statement by the Prime Minister. Thirdly, you debated it last year and year before. What has changed?

2. We did not have the Social and Economic Rewiew. The Social and Economic Review is not intended for the debate on the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure. The debate on the Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure is to examine and analyze the allocations and proposed expenditure for the country. It is not a policy debate. It is a debate on expenditure and allocations. It is a debate about figures! There is therefore, no need for the Social and Economic Review. The review becomes relevant in the debate on the Budget statement.

3. We did not have to start the debate. Actually, if you were paying attention, you would realize the Prime Minister started the debate. He always starts and ends the debate during Budget. He spoke on every Ministry. There was nothing said within that hour that interested you? In actual fact, the parliamentary convention is that after the Minister of Finance has spoken on the Estimates it is the shadow spokesperson of Finance for the Opposition who is given the right of priority to reply.

4. We did not have enough information to debate. Why not profit an uninterrupted platform to express your views and register your inability to comprehend the Estimates or debate the Estimates because of the absence of information?

5. We got the Estimates one week before. When, in the past have you ever gotten the Estimates earlier and why did you debate then?

6. It is not my Budget, it is Kenny D. Anthony’s budget. It’s not Kenny D. Anthony’s budget. It’s the people’s budget and your business is to represent the people!

These excuses are lame and disappointing. No matter how I twist and analyze this, it is embarrassing to face. The representation in the House of Assembly should not be taken lightly.

I have already concluded that the UWP can afford not to debate in the House because they are given more than one hour of free airtime without any interruptions on any given day on Newsspin, News Maker Live, Hot Button Issue or wherever they decide once it is politically expedient to speak. The Government on the other hand, has a history of being short changed and criticized by the media and knows that this platform will not be offered even if it throws away the opportunity it is entitled to.

I never thought I would live to see a day when individuals who fought so hard for a seat in Parliament would neglect to perform tasks they are paid to do in Parliament. The Budget is perhaps the most important exchange between the Government and Opposition during the parliamentary year. Many at home and abroad look forward to reports and questions. The Opposition clearly needs to reexamine it’s approach to the business of the people because actions that are designed to embarrass the Government, are instead embarrassing the entire nation.

In 2011, the people of Saint Lucia decided that the UWP is not fit to be in Government. On Wednesday, they proved that they are not fit to be Opposition either. I now move that the LPM adopt the seats in the House of Assembly from now until General Elections because apparently they have more than propaganda to add to the debate on the people’s business.

Whether there was little or nothing to say, the fact that it was not recorded in the House of Assembly is disrespectful to the voters of this country. I have heard people say that the Prime Minister’s contribution was very thorough and detailed and needed no support or opposition. Even that could have been said so our children and grandchildren would understand and appreciate the silence of the Opposition. The records now show an Opposition that is not prepared to represent the people. Another example of poor and desperate leadership by Allen Chastanet. Another shameful act.

Truly, another episode in the “Days of Our Lives.”

By Stephen Lester Prescott

10 Comments

  1. Stephen Lester Prescott – A.K.A. – S.L.P.
    Very good try, but it back fired. Did you feel the IMPACT when it blew up in your faces. Enough is enough. Get real, you were once a Party I had great hope in, but you have disappointed, and lately the contaminant is getting worse and beyond surgery. For the sake of this poor Country, stop your foolery and get back to normal if you can. Your trickery is wearing thin and people are fed up. If you’re so blind that you cannot see, well so be it. You’re done, well done. bye.

  2. Vergil and (A)s(B)ackwardasthey(C)ome
    You assault the messenger but not the Message
    Must be some golden truth in there.
    Boy oh Boy
    Now I really truly wanna take a closer read of the merits of the message 🙂

  3. Blaming each other for crap only serves to anger me. Both flambeau and Labour are immature amf full of themselves. We need need a new voice in the house and this is why LPM is guraanteed to get my vote. I have voted. 2 times uwp and 2 times slp. Enough of that crap.

  4. First, the flam-boy-ant one as wanna be Little Richard (king of Rock and Roll) to contest the bilateral boundaries decision. One who believes that diesel is a more enticing musky cologne than Brut.
    Why not the walking encyclopedia of the Micoud professor? She has what it takes to do battle in a court?
    Next, we have a strategy of say /do nothing as political rhetoric borrowed from the page of the former unionist-now sinator- when she held her breath till she turned yellow?- during budget negotiations.
    Do you guys truly believe that St Luciansa are so absent of thought as to allow nfor this travesty of LAZINESS in their House of Representation. A better strategy would have been to hire a freshly arrived fisherman to stand up and say ” Ladies and Gentleman , and ritual salutations -Our Party believes that this budget is BULL ****” or as Churchill once flared in the House of Commons ‘This is an INEXACTITUDE’
    You must give a voice for those you are duly PAID and CONSTITUTIONALLY MANDATED to represent.
    Playing DEAF or DUMB is a clear indicator that these reps believe their constituents are RETARDED or ZOMBIES in APATHY Cemetery.
    And over all these conniving extravaganzas you have the delusional Pied Piper PEE-TAR scheming confabulations as cover for the bare flanks of the mouse-scare-tears. Good grief!!
    PoorJab to the Compton legacy indeed 🙁

  5. Compton may have had his faults too, but under his tenure this nonsense would never happen. I knew him well, kind of a little Papa-Doc but nothing like what we are witnessing right now. For the sake of Lucianna, and my poor relatives there, something scares me. They can’t make two ends meet and they say, it’s like the place is under a blight. Something’s got to give and people want change. When one is desperate they seem to grab to or go to any thing/person who offers hope, not the same ol’ same ol’ may God help us at this time, let us turn to him.

  6. Vergil
    The CLASS and INTEGRITY of your colonial ancestors and mine are like the Majestic Pitons compared to the pebbles of their economic well being. I know for a fact my most immediate ancestors loved S. Lucia more than anywhere else on this planet-and they did travel like most -where economic opps were afoot. Kinda like our generation.
    BUT their unconditional love and devotion for our well being kicked many of us up a few notches up the totem pole of economic well being, n’est pas.
    This current govt has exemplified educational opportunity. For the most part even a tea party Republican would agree that providing opportunity to become future producive citizens is a fundamental role of gov. Emergencies and crises are also the responsibilities of gov. Unfortunately this ship of state has been besieged by a slate of perplexing crises and emergencies too large for a marginal island nation. Subjectively, I may add that too many of the passengers are NOT ROWING their ratio of thrust to propel this ship of state through its dire straits!
    Worst of all you got on board saboteurs to foil the gov advance
    Poverty is a multi use label.
    However,when one is nurtured with love, admiration and instilled with the fear of God, he/she feels prince like amidst his /her humble/basic environment.
    In reality this sort of Tabla Rosa- is
    perfectly ready to LEARN- the world.
    If one feeds both the spiritual essence and academic vitae as he / she journeys through the developmental milestones -now that is rich and balanced.
    Problem with economic poverty as defined by SES stats is that it creates a panic to jettison God and to lead by the vain urgings of the flesh. How could pregnant teens motivate or provide the self sacrifice to skip up their babies a notch or two above their own vicious cycle of poverty (SES stat)
    When the BARD echoed in the House , recently:
    TO BE OR NOT TO BE
    The opposition replied arrogantly
    NOT TO BE
    Therefore, the INCUMBENT gov is a superior choice for managing this Ship of State=
    Firstly, by default- Traditionally the challenger MUST show competence above and beyond (both) to be considered seriously
    Secondly, by abdicating their vested responsibilities at a most critical time is a mix of depraved indifference (a trait of criminal insanity) , fugue state, and dereliction o f duty . All ingredients in the psychiatric melange the DSM V classifies as Borderline Syndrome.
    Imagine you are a passenger on a jumbo jet from Seoul to San Francisco . Just as you view the Golden Gate Bridge, the captain and assistant pilots calmly walk down the aisle asking is there anyone aboard with any piloting skills to takeover for the final approach and touchdown –
    because they are so stressed out and fatigued that they will now rest in the rear jumpseats.
    Fortunately, busy airports can locate a pilot familiar with said aircraft to report to the control tower ASAP , in order to talk a basic pilot on board for a safe landing
    It also helps immensely that instruments controls are redundant and robotic . The pilot is a calibrator who adjusts for real time variations in wind speed /direction/flap deployment/ flaring out /reverse thrusters etc.
    So the question remains, “which of the stooges is captain of Air Flambeau?”
    I bet it is MO
    As in Captain Mo Calamity Ahead.

  7. Me thinks, no matter what, it is calamity ahead with either one of the two. I am of the opinion that we have been deceived and taken for a ride with this one. I did believe that this one with a well oiled Combine, Phd’s and Doctorates of other disciplines would be the right stuff, AWA. So what next, the other Stooges? the best patois word I can find to fit is, AWA weee.

  8. First of all it is important to provide a clear analogy of the situation, if what I have just read is true, that “the Silence of the Lamb 3” was performed in the house rather than an open debate on the economic future of the St Lucian (Commonwealth country), making an attempt to release the chains of subjugation following 36 years of independence.
    It follows that none of the major parties in Great Britain have chosen to include Commonwealth countries in their the manifestos as a priority.
    Fear has therefore forced the opposition to detract from the common rules which binds strong Government, the necessity, to have a formidable opposition, which under normal circumstances can result in reasonable success.
    Secondly, as part of a tradition for prosperity when a country is faced with economic crisis, it is natural for communities to practice or adopt socialist principles (ie Unity) here in Great Britain coalition Government has proved to be a tremendous success.
    The political scenario in a changing world should evolve accordingly, in retrospect as we celebrate there should be more meaning to the label of independent.
    Continuity and change is the main theme, only if the St Lucian Government maintain the “rule of law” in all their activities.
    Professor J Raz, approached the rule of law from a morally neutral but conceptual standpoint. He drew an analogy between the rule of law and a knife. One quality of a good knife is sharpness, but the quality of sharpness says nothing as to the use of to which a knife might be put i.e. beneficial surgery or murder.

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